Southern Railway scraps 341 services a day

From The Argus

A Southern service at Brighton station.

Southern Railway is to cut 341 trains a day in a revised timetable, the company has announced.

The temporary revised weekday timetable comes into force from Monday July 11 to reduce the impact on passengers and staff of unpredictable and late notice cancellations, the company said.

It claims issues surrounding the cancellations are down to unprecedented levels of train crew sickness and unwillingness among others to work overtime.

The operator is working with the Government to introduce more generous passenger compensation.

Southern has had issues with train crew availability ever since the RMT launched industrial action over the operator’s plans to hand control of who would close the doors from conductors to drivers.

The train operator claims the new timetable will:
•    Be more robust, allowing Southern to recover the timetable faster when problems do occur such as signal failures;
•    Allow them to run longer trains and replacement bus services as well whenever possible;
•    And passengers will be able to claim compensation for delays against both the original and revised timetables.

The revised temporary weekday timetable will run until train crew availability returns to normal.

The company says it plans to encourage staff back to work by giving conductors back their leisure travel passes and restoring the mutual shift swap system which gives them flexibility in their working patterns.

Southern Passenger Services Director Alex Foulds said: “We are introducing this temporary weekday revised timetable with reluctance but it is the best thing we can do for our passengers who have been suffering daily cancellations ever since this dispute with the RMT began, and for which we are sincerely sorry.

“It should give the majority of our passengers a better, more consistent service that they can plan around.

“Whilst our first priority is our passengers, we also understand that this has been a difficult time for our staff. Conductors already know that their jobs are guaranteed, that there will be no reduction in salary and that the independent rail safety body has confirmed our plans are safe.

“Now, after listening to our staff, we have also decided to restore leisure travel benefits. All of this, we believe, should help our staff feel able to return to work and so reduce the issues causing the current high level of train cancellations.”

Changes under the temporary timetable include the reductions in service on the Coastway routes, with buses replacing most trains between Seaford and Lewes.

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